Advisors in Randolph’s Middle School are student advocates dedicated to knowing and supporting children in a way that goes beyond the traditional classroom teacher-student relationship. In weekly meetings, advisory groups of 8-10 students meet with advisors to discuss, play, eat, create, and bond together. Some meetings are dedicated to the issues of Randolph, some to the issues of the world, and some to the challenges of being in middle school. Advisors guide students through all of these with an eye towards developing the important life skills of debate, discussion, analysis, cooperation, and problem solving.
The advisory program, which continues in Upper School, is successful in reaching its character development goals and in ensuring strong connections amongst the students and adults in the Randolph community. We couldn’t help but wonder, though, whether there was more we could do to help middle schoolers be ready for what life will throw at them. So, taking a page from Randolph Interim programs of the past, middle school advisory took on quite a different complexion.
For three Thursdays in March, the School was abuzz with students sewing on buttons, chopping vegetables, pitching tents, writing checks, and changing tires. Some students learned self-defense, while others learned how to choose healthy ingredients for homemade pizzas and smoothies as 5th-7th grade advisors served up lessons on life skills of a more tangible variety in an advisory twist designed to get the students broadening their abilities and their awareness of the types of daily responsibilities they will face as adults.
The wide variety of activities was born from the individual talents and interests of the advisors, who planned their sessions and shared their wisdom. Kathie Clayton, 6th Grade Language Arts teacher and advisor, brought her experience with tools to the table and provided her students with an opportunity to get their hands dirty while learning a little about basic home improvement. While hammering nails into 2 x 4s and fixing a towel rack to drywall, Ms. Clayton’s students came away with a sense of accomplishment, some newfound know-how, and perhaps a greater appreciation of the work done by the wonderful facilities and maintenance staff members, who helped with the instruction.
Regardless of which life skill sessions the students attended, they all got a taste of what life as an adult can be like. Managing money, cooking simple meals, dealing with car emergencies, and paying bills are all things they will need to be doing sooner than they think. As student advocates and guides, our advisors have done a great job giving our students a head start on a successful future, and realizing our vision of a Randolph that is not only “college prep,” but “life prep.”
Photos mostly by Ashley Scoggins.